When was the last time you washed your eyelids? Many of us don’t really consider eyelid hygiene to be a necessary part of our daily routine. What we don’t realize is that without it, we become vulnerable to a condition called blepharitis.
What is Blepharitis?
Blepharitis is a condition resulting in flaky skin at the base of the lash line. Eyelids become inflamed, red, and sore, while oily debris collects in the lashes. Blepharitis can lead to multiple other eye problems, including infections and dry eye.
What Causes Blepharitis?
Blepharitis can stem from a number of issues, including bacterial and fungal infections of the eyelid. There are also parasites that can cause blepharitis. Usually, blepharitis is an ongoing problem.
Everyone has some degree of bacteria on their eyelids. It’s when these bacteria fall out of balance that they cause a problem. It’s not uncommon for blepharitis and conjunctivitis to flare up at the same time.
Symptoms of Blepharitis Include:
- Dry eyes
- Watery eyes
- Crusts or debris developing at the lashline
- Burning sensation
- Sensation of a foreign object being caught in the eye
- Contact lens discomfort
- Gritty sensation in the eyes
Blepharitis & Dry Eye
Blepharitis and dry eye are quite closely connected. Some doctors believe dry eye causes blepharitis, while others believe blepharitis causes dry eye. Regardless, the two conditions do impact each other in some way.
Everyone has bacteria living along their lash line. If this bacteria builds up, it creates something called biofilm. A biofilm is an unhealthy environment which becomes an excellent food source for bacteria. This biofilm can also cause meibomian glands to become inflamed, making it more difficult for your body to make the right quality and volume of tears.
Tears contain natural antibodies to help fight infection. Because your body cannot make the right volume or quality of tears anymore, these antibodies don’t make contact with the eyelids and lashes, allowing the bacteria to grow even more out of control. Eventually, more and more glands are affected, causing ongoing dryness and discomfort.
Your optometrist may prescribe steroid eye drops or antibiotics to relieve the infection and inflammation. Antibiotics are usually applied with a cotton swab to the lashline.
Prevention Through Hygiene
Proper eyelid hygiene is crucial to the prevention of blepharitis. You should wash your eyelids regularly to prevent buildup. There are even some eyelid scrubs available to help with exfoliation. Baby shampoo is an excellent cleanser to use on your eyelids and lashes.